The visiting experts hand over this Evaluation Report, based on the Self-Assessment of the General Music Didactics (GMD) Bachelor Program in Kaunas submitted by the LMTA and on information gathered during the site visit of September 22-23, 2010 from the various bodies of the institution (administration, authors of the Self-Assessment report, staff, students, graduates and employers). The experts found the SA clearly written with significant detail concerning the education and training of music students from recruitment and admission through the completion of studies. On behalf of the Association Européenne des Conservatoires, they thank the institutions submitting assessments for their welcome and the CQAHE for the careful preparation of the process.
The Introduction to the GMD Bachelor program Self-Assessment Report gives the visiting experts a clear picture of the organizational structure of the LMTA in general and of the Self-Assessment process and its personnel in particular. The experts note the institution’s own recommendations for improvement as a result of this self-assessment effort and will comment on them in the course of this evaluation.
II. PROGRAM ANALYSIS
1. Program aims and learning outcomes
1.1. Program demand, purpose and aims
1.1.1. Uniqueness and rationale of the need for the program
According to the SA, the Department of Music Didactics and Conducting of the Kaunas Faculty of LMTA is a young section working closely with other higher education institutions as well as with general and music schools. With a score of 96% of graduates working in their specialty and an increasing popularity of the program (table 1, p. 5), the visiting experts has no doubt about its usefulness. The commission also notes the specificity of the Kaunas program in terms of special artistic skills (piano, singing, choir conducting) alongside pedagogical training, leading to social useful skills for the wider community (amateur choirs).
1.1.2. Conformity of the program purpose with institutional, state and international directives
The SA gives ample evidence of the conformity of this program on the institutional (LMTA strategic plan), national (state regulations) and international plans (Bologna reform and EU programs and recommendations). An overview of Music Teacher training System is also available on the AEC website (Bologna and Music).
1.1.3.Relevance of the program aims
Although the modular structure of the program is not fully described in the SA and needs to be reconstructed from page 9 of the SA (professional training – musical competences – general education) and the Annex 3.1, the visiting experts feel it is in harmony with the Bologna first cycle AEC recommendations. They also note that the Bachelor of Arts in General Music Didactics enables the graduates to work as a music teacher at schools of general education (high schools), to lead artistic collectives of schoolchildren groups of various age and composition, to work in other institutions related to education and artistic activity, to continue studies at a higher cycle (p. 5). The above mentioned Annex 3.1 also gives a comprehensive description of the course units.
1.2.1. Comprehensibility and attainability of the learning outcomes
The SA insists on a carefully proofed balance between artistic development and pedagogical skills, deeply connected to the learning outcomes alongside six different spheres of competences: general cultural, teaching, methodological, managerial, educational policy and self improvement. The complexity level of the program learning outcomes is appropriate for a Bachelor cycle in the view of the experts, and this view is shared by the graduates and employers met during the visit.
1.2.2. Consistency of the learning outcomes
The learning outcomes of the program are consistent in the view of the visiting experts. The experts also note with interest the wish expressed in the SA of paying more attention to individual performance of music, teaching choral conducting and the development of the practical activity during the music class. They encourage the LMTA KF in this way and recommend being more precise in terms of artistic requirements. The AEC documentation might be useful in this process (www.bologna-and-music.org and www.polifonia-tn.org) (see recommendation III.3.1).
1.2.3. Transformation of the learning outcomes
The assessment description makes clear that the GMD Bachelor program is constantly evaluated and checked. Its special position in the LMTA – leading to a state regulated profession - also helps the various stakeholders to take an active part in the renewal process, as the commission could see during the site visit.
2. Curriculum design
2.1. Program structure
2.1.1. Sufficiency of the study volume
Although Table 2 of the SA (p. 11) makes confusion between national credits and ECTS, the detailed examination of the study program offers clear evidence it is in compliance with the relevant legal acts in terms of balance and volume of pedagogical training, musical competences and general education. The same statement can be made about the new program set for the new 2010 regulations, where the experts are pleased to note that greater attention than up till now will be devoted to students’ practical work and methods of teaching the subjects (p. 11).
2.1.2. Consistency of the study subjects
The general design of the program is in phase with the Bologna AEC 1st cycle description. Accordingly few optional subjects are available on this level. Nevertheless, the Commission suggests the LMTA to consider more cross-over studying units between its other pedagogical programs and the local universities. It also recommends taking benefit of the overall reform to get deeper into the Bologna process and to structure more precisely the modular learning outcomes (see recommendation III.3.2).
2.2.1. Compliance of the contents of the studies with legal acts
According to the submitted self-assessment material and information obtained during the site visit, the experts understand that the General Music Didactics studies program is generally consistent with "General requirements for study programs" confirmed by Minister of Education and Science on July 22, 2005, Order No. 1551. The study plan includes 7 subjects per semester what is in correlation with the requirements. The program is 160 credits, and is divided to three different categories of units: Part A - items of general university education is 22 credits, i.e., 13,7% of the total study program (requirements of the volume shall be not less than 8%); part B - the framework of the program of study subjects for 82 credits (the volume of requirements must be at least 60 credits); part C – specialist (professional) education matters for 56 credits, i. e., 35% of the total study program (requirements specified volume must be at least 25%). Practices for 14 credits (requirements specify that it must be at least 10 credits). Final project preparation and defense are given 12 credits (requirements specify it must be at least 8 credits). Requirements for Education Studies are also achieved: there are 44 credits of pedagogical studies (requirements specify it must be at least 40 credits), where 24 credits are for theoretical studies and 20 credits are for teaching practice.
2.2.2. Comprehensiveness and rationality of program content
The experts feel the SA authors eager to root the program into a modern university context and commend the LMTA for this vision. The variety of forms and methods of teaching are appropriate and fit to international standards. The commission suggests to open the instrumental teaching to other instruments than the piano only, to give a broader place to alternative methods (Suzuki, Orff, Dalcroze and the like), to modern pop music and to community modules (music in hospital, in jail, etc) while carefully contributing keeping alive the Lithuanian folk music (see recommendation III.3.2).
3.1. Staff composition and turnover
3.1.1. Rationality of the staff composition
Teachers' qualification is sufficient to achieve the aims of the study program, is in accordance with General Requirements for the Degree-Conferring First Cycle study program and legal requirements for Education (Pedagogy): 20 credits (50%) of study field subjects’ volume are taught by teachers having scientific degree and their research field corresponds to subjects field they teach. Annex 3.3 gives evidence that most of the teachers do have a research and/or artistic activity in their teaching field. The commission also thinks that the GMD program would greatly benefit from invited teachers; giving new ideas and impetus (see recommendation III.3.3).
3.1.2. Turnover of teachers
The overall stability of the teaching staff suggests a teacher’s team being able to deal with the institutional historical identity. Nevertheless and as stated above, the strengthening of the academic qualifications and the development of a guest teachers policy should be a priority in order to be in phase with the legal requirements and programs in a rapidly changing environment (see recommendation III.3.3)
3.2. Staff competence 3.2.1. Compliance of staff experience with the study program
The detailed description of staff’s activities in SA and in Annex 3.3 offers evidence of activity not only in pedagogy, but also in various other fields of musical experience (concerts, research, organization, expertise etc.), well in phase with the study program.
3.2.2. Consistency of teachers’ professional development
According to the legal requirements, the teachers are certified for a limited time period and must give evidence of continuing professional development. Although Annex 3.3 already offers numerous examples of such action, the experts suggest using the tool of periodic certification for improving the teacher’s qualification in a more focused way (see recommendation III.3.3)
4.1.1. Sufficiency and suitability of premises for studies
The building of the Kaunas Faculty of LMTA has an attractive exterior surrounded by a park-like campus which is characteristic of the area. According to the SA, the number of classrooms and auditoria is sufficient for the current student population which has the opportunity to study from early morning (6 AM) till evening (10 PM), and 8 AM – 6 PM during holidays. Although there are plans to extend the number of workplaces for group classes, the students confirmed during the experts’ visit that there is sufficient study space for them. However, it is the visiting experts’ impression that the interior of the building needs significant renovation. According to the SA, 10% of the Faculty will be renovated in 2011 (see recommendation III.3.4.1).
The Library work area and reading room provide sufficient space for the current student body. Plans to expand the number of workstations with audio and computer equipment have been suspended because of a shortage of funds. Since LMTA KF Library is a subunit of LMTA Library in Vilnius, materials that are not available in the LMTA KF stock can be ordered at the LMTA Library, arriving within one or two days. Students can also make use of public libraries in Kaunas (see recommendation III.3.4.2).
4.1.2. Suitability and sufficiency of equipment for studies
The SA indicates a catalogue of available equipment for student use including instruments, concert attire, and printed performance materials (scores and parts). The quantity of instruments currently in Kaunas is sufficient according to the SA; nevertheless, plans include acquisition of 4 new grand pianos’ in the next 5 years. The SA also states that audio and video equipment, and computer hardware and software are available for student use but need to be improved and increased. The visiting experts note that the faculty is aware of the need to improve and expand the materials and equipment and that budgetary support and fundraising for this is an issue because the LMTA KF finances are totally dependent on LMTA Vilnius (see recommendation III.3.4.2).
4.1.3. Suitability and accessibility of the resources for practical training
The experts agree that accessibility and suitability of resources for practical training appear adequate as stated in the SA. Internal performance spaces and external halls are available for student performance projects realized in Kaunas under co-operation agreements with LMTA Vilnius and local organizations. Students of the LMTA KF find their practical training in music education in various music schools and cultural institutions in Kaunas and the surrounding area.
The experts agree that the ratio of suitable practice spaces is generally adequate for current needs and that the LMTA KF has managed the selection and accommodation of locations for practical tasks in an effective way.
4.2. Learning resources
4.2.1. Suitability and accessibility of books, textbooks and periodical publications
Although suitability and accessibility of books, textbooks and periodicals appear adequate for the program, there are several issues which the SA brings to light. The availability of contemporary and early music performance material (scores and parts) appears to be a weakness of the LMTA Library system (see recommendation III.3.4.3).
There also appears to be a shortage of publications available to students in the area of Jazz which is especially problematic because most recognized texts in this area are in languages other than Lithuanian. The LMTA KF acknowledges the shortage of texts in Lithuanian in this and other areas and has partially solved the problem by encouraging the teachers to create their own texts, several of which have become recognized, published and widely-used textbooks in Lithuania. The visiting experts commend the institution for this effort and encourage even further progress as financial conditions allow.
4.2.2. Suitability and accessibility of learning materials
As mentioned above in this report, the scholarly activities of the LMTA KF faculty have helped fill the publications deficiencies of quality texts in Lithuanian. According to the SA, the greatest current need is for textbooks that deal with Lithuanian contemporary music since 1950. The visiting experts encourage the LMTA KF to continue to find solutions, both internal and external, to reduce this shortage.
The Library appears well stocked to meet student needs in most areas and has operating hours which appears adequate based on student traffic, faculty needs, and budgetary considerations. Since students from the Kaunas Faculty have access to the stock of the Vilnius Library, it is the experts’ opinion that they have sufficient access to learning materials. Availability of electronic subscriptions including Jstor and Project Muse appears sufficient for the needs of the program. In the opinion of the experts, LMTA KF is well provisioned with methodological publications and provides access to necessary learning materials and aids.
5. Study process and student assessment
5.1.1 Relevance of requirements on admission to the studies
The visit of the experts happens at a very specific moment since the assessed programs are under the process of heavy modifications to fit to the new law passed in 2010. Furthermore, new admission rules have been edited in May 2009 and already been applicable for the academic year 2009-10, with as a result some confusion and significant changes in the student’s profiles and students number in the various programs. The commission expresses concern about the weight of the general education scores compared to the artistic and pedagogical skills of potential students in the new system, who can indeed be discarded for irrelevant reasons. This may create discrepancies and negative tensions under the various fields of the institution, not to speak about the general quality level. Although the Commission is sure that the new regulations were applied on a fair and transparent basis, it encourages the partners to find specific regulations for the field of music in order not to bypass talented students. After talking to representative of the post-secondary and precollege level, it also encourages to tighten the links between the conservatoires and the higher level music institutions (see recommendation III.5.1).
5.1.2 Efficiency of enhancing the motivation of future and new students
The main motivation for students to apply for studies in Kaunas is the fact that the school is located in Kaunas. A majority of the students studying at Kaunas are from that region, and intend to stay there.
This is in fact, one of the strengths of the program and demonstrates the necessity for such a program to be offered in that region, however, the danger of such a situation is that the program, students and staff become too ingrown and introverted.
The experts noted a definite concern about the quality of applicants, not only due to the new application procedures in Lithuania, but also due to the fact that there seems to be a gap in the music school system, where students are dropping out of the music schools approximately four years before they should be applying for the Academy. This is indeed serious, and the experts strongly recommend that the faculty at Kaunas take measures in being proactive towards that age level. One way might be to try to ensure that teachers teaching at that level (highest level of general music schools or conservatoires) have the right competences to teach at that level, and are well trained in new emerging areas of music, where the interests of the teenagers might lie. Another suggestion would be to encourage the cooperation between the chamber music teachers of the Academy with the conservatoire, offering the most advanced students to take part in chamber music with the Academy students. In that way younger students might be encouraged to decide to study at the Academy and the bonus would be larger instrumental body for the chamber music program (see recommendation III.5.1).
Several of the teachers in Kaunas are or have been active performers and are well connected to the various competitions taking place in Europe. The performance students appear to be well motivated and encouraged to participate in competitions and various performing activities The experts also noted with interest that several of the students are already teaching in the various music schools, and being faced with the reality of a teaching position have decided to take the pedagogical course in order to be better qualified and have more job security.
5.2. Study process
5.2.1. Rationality of the program schedule
Student’s workload appears to be distributed evenly and fairly throughout the school year. Students have several performance opportunities; both within the Academy (there is a concert hall) and outside. Many students are participating in various music organizations as well as travelling to competitions. The institution supports this and students appear to have enough freedom to be as active as they wish. Though there is no indication that students receive any formal assessment or feedback on their public performances, because of the smallness and close ties between students and staff, there is much awareness of what and how the students are doing and informal feedback given. Several students find time to teach alongside their studies.
5.2.2.Student academic performance
The performance of students and the retention rate appear appropriate for this level of music program with a small percentage of students asked to withdraw because of poor performance. Most student who do not complete the program leave for personal reasons and there is a counseling system in place to advise them in an attempt to keep them enrolled or help them find their way after early departure from the program. Table 6 of the SA shows the withdrawal and graduation rates from 2005-2009.
Admitted to the first year
Competitive mark of admitted students
Reasons for dropping out
Per cent from all students of the program
5.2.3. Mobility of teachers and students
Teachers and students have the possibility of going on Erasmus and Nordplus exchanges, but there is not much activity in that area. The experts would like to encourage the institution to advocate mobility. Those students who have travelled expressed coming back more open minded and secure that what they have indeed been learning at home is quite comparable to what is offered elsewhere (except for instruments and facilities). This should be regarded as positive by the institution. At the same time the experts note with concern that students of Didactics had no idea they could take part in mobility programs, weren’t aware of the fact that there was an international advisor available for them. The question must be asked, why not? It is a strong recommendation that the Academy in Kaunas take measures to ensure that the students have access to the International relations office. One suggestion might be that the IR officer comes to Kaunas once a week, both to have sessions explaining the available mobility grants and so that students and staff can have better direct access (see recommendation III.5.2).
5.3. Student support
5.3.1. Usefulness of academic support
The first effort toward student support which the LMTA KF makes is communication of basic information about each study program including courses and financing, expected outcomes, study structure and opportunities for mobility both on its website and during open-door sessions each Spring. According to the SA, new students have appropriate orientation meetings with Faculty Deans and administrators during which they reinforce the basic information and answer students’ questions. There also appears to be appropriate, ongoing counselling, both oral and written, for students during their period of study at LMTA KF. Career counselling is an important part of the process with LMTA KF teachers serving as the primary conduit to the profession. At the end of 2009, the LMTA began a student career consulting service. By March 2010, a cooperative project in this area was expected to begin involving other institutions including Vilnius University.
5.3.2. Efficiency of social support
There appears to be psychological support available for students as needed but the experts encourage the development of this area through the development of resources especially those available through other institutions of Higher Education in Kaunas.
If necessary LMTA KF makes a dormitory accommodation available by renting from the Lithuanian University of Agriculture and Kaunas District. According to the SA, 20 LMTA KF students stay in dormitories each year. The experts found that this is sufficient based on information gathered during the visit because other students can rent accommodations at a reasonable rate nearby.
5.4. Student achievement assessment
5.4.1. Suitability of assessment criteria and their publicity
As checked in the documentation and during the site visit, the assessment criterias and processes are clearly regulated, described and published (see Annex 3.1) and available to students and faculty. The students are also clearly informed about appeals procedures.
5.4.2. Feedback efficiency
According to the SA, students traditionally receive the most exhaustive information about advantages and shortcomings of their assessment during classes, exams and practical work through their teachers and also through external partners when applicable.
5.4.3. Efficiency of final thesis assessment
There appears to be an efficient process of final project assessment described in the SA. A jury of experts assesses the project including someone who has not worked in the department for at least 3 years serving a chairperson. The visiting experts feel that this is an example of the typical internationally recognized system of evaluation using a jury of experts, some or all of whom have no direct connection with the candidate, to validate the course of study toward the diploma.
The final examination cannot be subject to appeals.
5.4.4. Functionality of the system for assessment and recognition of achievements acquired in non-formal and self-education
Of special importance is the assessment and recognition of achievements acquired out of academic formal structures (maximum 20% of the total credits required for graduation). Due to the fast social and academic changes and to the mobility growth, one can assume this process is going to increase in a significant way during the next years. The experts commission therefore recommends the LMTA KF to be fair and cautious in the administration of this process which is based primarily on the evaluation of documents (see recommendation III, 5.3.).
5.5. Graduates placement
5.5.1. Expediency of graduate placement
The score of graduate placement (96%) is very high and speaks for the efficiency of the program in term of employability. Nevertheless, the commission recommends the LMTA KF to keep a close look to the market evolution and to take proactive steps to anticipate changes when appropriated.
6. Program management 6.1. Program administration
6.1.1 Efficiency of the program management activities
Although the institution does not have a specific and permanent manager in charge for quality assurance beyond the implementation of programs itself, the statutes and the general management scheme seem to provide a structure sufficient to take further steps toward this goal. The duties are distributed from the Rector through various administrators and to the faculties in a clear and organized manner as viewed by the visiting experts. As seen in the SA and during the discussion with the various stakeholders, the coordination of collegiality with personal responsibility in decision making inside the program and in connection with others is working well. All data are transparent and available to the relevant partners thank to the new academic information system implemented in 2009 and to modern medias (e-mail, intranet). The internal communication between the various institutional bodies is satisfactory.
6.2. Internal quality assurance
6.2.1 Suitability of the program quality assessment
The assessment of internal quality assurance is a new process and is encouraged by the Commission to be further developed on a regular basis. Of special interest is the investigation about the “Compliance of programs of music schools, music high schools and conservatories with the programs of the LAMT” (2008), which can be seen – together with the work of the permanent commissions – as a major development tool and as a basis for pilot projects. In general, all institutional bodies seem to be well informed about those various processes.
6.2.2 Efficiency of the program quality improvement
The examples of usefulness of assessment for quality improvement are convincing and well published (material improvements, agreements with various institutions, hiring of new teachers and artists, etc.), although the experts recommend that more means and more speed can be dedicated to this important issue (see recommendation III.6.1)
6.2.3 Efficiency of stakeholders’ participation
The SA indicates some progress in involving the primary stakeholders, the students, in the process of improving their program, and the Commission enjoyed the vivid discussions with them during the visit. To the experts, the process at this point appears mainly reactive to problems and difficulties. A more proactive approach will be important for future improvements and quality assurance. One way to accomplish this is to formulate a plan that includes strategies for the future with input from all stakeholders: students, faculties, administrators, graduates and the members of the profession who are the primary consumers of the institution’s most important product: its well-trained and educated musicians and music pedagogues (see recommendation III.6.2).
7. Influence on cultural life
The general influence of the program can be observed beyond the employability of graduates since these professionals are also active in the social and cultural life of Lithuania in general and in the Kaunas region in particular. This model deserves much commend and could even be broaden up so the Kaunas Faculty takes a leadership in creating the culture of tomorrow.
8. Interaction with the profession
In the SA, there is ample documentation of long-standing interaction with performing and educational institutions in Lithuania. The visiting experts suggest that Erasmus and other mobility efforts might be included here to show the spirit of international interaction with the profession that already exists.
The experts recommend describing the artistic learning outcomes the program in a more precise way. (II, 1.2.2)
The experts recommend structuring more precisely the modular learning outcomes of the program. They also recommend giving a broader place to alternative methods, to modern pop music and to community modules. (II, 2.1.2 and 2.2.2)
The experts recommend taking full advantage of professional development programs. They also encourage a policy of invited and guest teachers. (II, 3.1.1, 3.1.2 and 3.2.2)
The experts recommend a longer-term plan for renovation of the interior of the building of LMTA Kaunas Faculty. With understanding for the financial implications, 10% renovation in 2011 seems rather modest and should be looked upon as a first step to be followed by more intense renovations (II, 4.1.1).
With understanding for the fact that the library of LMTA KF is part of a subordinate structural division of LMTA the experts recommend LMTA and LMTA KF to do an extra effort to give preference to expand the number of computer workstations and auditoriums with audio and computer equipment. Since the Kaunas Faculty cannot have the same stock of materials i is more important for users of the library to have access to digital available materials. Also the disposal of audio and computer equipment has to be a point of attention. (II, 4.1.1 and 4.1.2)
The experts recommend a systematic plan for solving the lack of materials (score and parts) especially in the area of printed early and contemporary music. (II, 4.2.1)
While aware of the difficult situation caused by the new admission regulations, the experts recommend handling proactively with those by identifying the potential students early and help them to fit to them, also by tightening up the links between the LMTA KF and the precollege institutions. (II, 5.1.1, 5.1.2)
The experts recommend the mobility of teachers and students to be encouraged by taking fuller opportunity of all the available programs. (II, 5.2.3)
The experts recommend taking further steps for a careful processing and recognition of the non-formal and self-education studies (II, 5.4.4)
The experts recommend the continuation, further development, formalisation and implementation of the internal quality assurance process begun in 2010. (II, 6.2.2)
The experts recommend the development of a new comprehensive strategic plan with a scope of at least 5 years to address the issue of declining national funding for the arts since the state remains the principal employer of music pedagogues (and graduates of LMTA) in Lithuania. This plan would also deal with admissions and enrolment projections that will result from mandated national standards, and other issues such as overcoming restrictions to art programs which occur within the framework of general national regulations. This long-range strategic plan would also address the need to build stronger ties with the external stakeholders; especially those bound by traditions that no longer appear relevant to the current needs of LMTA graduates and the music profession in the 21st century. The experts feel that this presents a challenging opportunity for institutional growth. (II, 6.2.3)
IV. GENERAL ASSESSMENT
The study program GENERAL MUSIC DIDACTICS(state code – 61201M102, 612X14001) is given positive evaluation.
Table. Study program assessment in points by evaluation areas.
Assessment in points*
Program aims and learning outcomes
Facilities and learning resources
Study process and student assessment (student admission, student support, student achievement assessment)
Program management (program administration, internal quality assurance)
*1 (unsatisfactory) - there are essential shortcomings that must be eliminated
2 (poor) - meets the established minimum requirements, needs improvement
3 (good) - the area develops systematically, has distinctive features